Facebook is making changes to its trending topics algorithm, which stands as another effort to rid its platform of fake news, the bulk of which has issued a caustic and oft-controversial slew of allegations.

Facebook's trending topics software will now only feature topics that have been covered by a significant crowd of trustworthy publishers starting Wednesday, Jan. 25, a transition that'll diminish fake news stories by virtue of prioritizing information sources that have been around longer.

Trending Topics No Longer Personalized

Moreover, trending topics will no longer be a personalized array with respect to individual Facebook users but will instead be a wide coterie of different topics so as to puncture the proverbial bubble — and by extension, the echo chamber that perpetuates isolated views — and expose Facebook users's different areas of interest.

Facebook says that it's "listening to people's feedback" and will apply further enhancements down the line to enrich the Trending experience.

Fake News

Facebook has overhauled its trending topics subset several times since last spring, pressed by allegations that Facebook contract workers cherry-picked and altered headlines that appeared on trending topics based on political views. Facebook fired said contract workers in August, which resulted in the sprouting of fake news stories on the trending topics box.

After the U.S. presidential election, several op-eds accused Facebook's faulty prevention, or lack, thereof, of helping President Donald Trump win the presidency. More than fake news, Facebook as a platform was also criticized for acting as an echo chamber, one where similar beliefs are banded together as a sort of validation, enriching the myopia.

Facebook is trying to fix that. Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief, was at first in a position of disbelief, rebuffing the notion the fake news helped push Trump above Clinton in terms of their winning chances. He, however, later cut back on his statements, admitting that Facebook is a not a traditional media company, adding that the platform owes responsibility to the media that enters its site.

The new changes being applied to Trending Topics should help push back on fake news. Previously, when these topics were displayed, it was difficult to ascertain why it's even there or why it's of importance to the user. Facebook will now add to topics headlines from the publisher, it being the "most requested feature" right now, according to the company.

Selecting Trending topics

How will Facebook select trending topics? Facebook said that topics pushed to trending will be selected based on key factors such as engagement both around the article and the source and whether neighbors — other articles — are linking to it.

Often, topics that are deemed by Twitter as trending will have no articles about it featured on the trending topics box, which was exactly the case with this past weekend's Women's March. Facebook has yet to answer why this happened.

Additionally, Facebook explained that "previously, topics may have trended due to high engagement ... around a single post or article." This changes now. Facebook said that it'll look at the number of publishers posting articles on the site centered around the same interest, along with the engagement of these articles. This way, trending topics will surface more quickly and more effectively.

The changes will roll out to U.S. Facebook users starting Jan. 25. Trending Topics is currently only available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India.

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